Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Can Open Source Give Comfort To the Enemy?

kdawson posted about 7 years ago | from the homeland-security-card dept.

Robotics 532

zlite writes "We make open source Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drones), mostly for geomapping and other amateur uses. One of our problems is that most people think of UAVs as Scary Things, and despite our efforts to prove otherwise there's always the risk of regulatory crackdowns. We have amateur UAV participants from around the world, but now they've been joined by an Iranian in Tehran, who has made a UAV in the colors of the Iranian flag. My instinct is that we should welcome everyone, everywhere, but I'm sure some in Washington worry that this looks like helping an 'Axis of Evil' country make advanced weapons. They could shut us down with the stroke of a pen. My question: is there ever a case for letting national security issues dictate the limits of an open source project?"

cancel ×

532 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Give the (0)

WillRobinson (159226) | about 7 years ago | (#20350873)

Kid a break, he's 17. And while we are on it, how many billions of $$$ can the "security industry" suck off the American people.

Re:Give the (4, Insightful)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 7 years ago | (#20350915)

Enemy of whom? Iran has not been in a war of aggression against any nation, since the 19th century.

Don't bite the propaganda of AIPAC or Dick Cheney! Israel is the nuclear armed agressor in the Middle East.

Persian culture, by way of contrast, produced the world's first assertion and declaration of Human Rights, and is responsible for the foundation of modern mathematics.

You want ethical and humane living? Read the Avesta of Zoroaster. Unlike the rabid Old Testament, it pleads that humanity have good thought, good speech and good deeds, not casting it's neighbors as "abominations" and wishing them plagues.

Re:Give the (5, Insightful)

jamstar7 (694492) | about 7 years ago | (#20351003)

I would have modded you up, but then I wouldnt've been able to comment. And I prefer to comment.

Technology is not inherently wrong/evil/whatever. Technology is just technology. And if an Iranian kid finds some peaceful apps for technology, good for him, hope he inspires the hell out of his friends to do the same.

Let's face it, you can use a baseball bat to play baseball. Or, you can use it to beat somebody to a pulp. Going to make baseball illegal cause somebody might pick up a bat and hit somebody? Same principle.

Re:Give the (1)

jimbug (1119529) | about 7 years ago | (#20351075)

What if performance-enhancing drugs are involved in said baseball?

Re:Give the (2, Insightful)

jamstar7 (694492) | about 7 years ago | (#20351279)

I could care less about baseball. Doesn't bother me in the least if they wanna do 'better ballplay through chemistry'.

Re:Give the (5, Informative)

WhiplashII (542766) | about 7 years ago | (#20351095)

While I do personally agree with your sentiments, that is not really the question being asked. The question being asked is "Is it legal?".

That question is more complex. I am working on a rocket - similar issue arise. ITAR is the governing regulation, and the state department decides what ITAR means. And they are not logical about it.

I want to develop human rocket transports - but anything that goes into space is automatically a weapon, according to the state department. That means that if I talk to a non-US citizen about my improvements to rockets, I go to jail - let alone hiring or working with a non-US citizen.

UAVs seem very likely to fall under ITAR, because the state department will almost certainly say so. Ignorance of the law does not free you from the consequences of it, so I would tread carefully. One of the biggest problems with ITAR is that it is difficult to know exactly what it makes illegal - and so you end up having to consult lawyers every time you want to do anything involving foriengers. Very annoying, and very expensive! But it does lock in big profits for government contractors, of course... (You did know that they get reimbursed for all legal expenses, right?)

My dream is that knowing this will so enrage the Slashdot community that everyone will call their senator and tell them to force the state department to make the ITAR list less inclusive, and only include things that have weaponry as a primary purpose - and get congress to force state to change.

I'd also like a pony...

Re:Give the (1)

einhverfr (238914) | about 7 years ago | (#20351405)

What about publishing original research in peer-reviewed journals?

If you analyze designs of NASA, ESA, and Russian cargo and human transport rockets, and offer ideas for the designs of the future, all based on publically available information?

How about we get better? Lets only look at foreign rocket designs :-) Leave the US ones out of it, and then offer published advice to NASA (and anyone else who can read)....

Re:Give the (1)

Amouth (879122) | about 7 years ago | (#20351355)

by your comment a gun can be used for shooting people.. or it could be used for shooting people.... wait that wasn't going where i wanted it..

(joking i don't care if people cary guns..)

Re:Give the (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20351021)

Accomplishments of hundreds of generations ago aren't really relevant to the discussion, are they? It's nice to found modern mathematics, but really has nothing to do with the security of a nation that'll come into being centuries later.

Re:Give the (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | about 7 years ago | (#20351375)

It's sad to see Americans who see themselves as liberals parroting propaganda from extreme anti democratic nationalists, just because those nationalists happen to be Iranian and anti bush. The fact that they are also anti women, anti gay and anti semitic to the point that they deny the holocaust and talk of wiping Israel off the face of the map is conveniently overlooked.

Re:Give the (5, Insightful)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | about 7 years ago | (#20351123)

Don't bite the propaganda of AIPAC or Dick Cheney! Israel is the nuclear armed agressor in the Middle East.

Huh? Aggressor? Last I checked, it wasn't Israel who was swearing to wipe out other countries, nor do they send suicide bombers to blow up buses of children. Israel is certainly not squeaky clean, but having enemies around you screaming for your destruction tends to make a country trigger happy. The ledger of atrocities is about 10 (if not 100) to 1 in favor of Israel.

Persian culture, by way of contrast, produced the world's first assertion and declaration of Human Rights, and is responsible for the foundation of modern mathematics.

Those civilizations are long dead -- unfortunately for the people of the middle east.

Re:Modded as troll - nice (2, Insightful)

WhiplashII (542766) | about 7 years ago | (#20351209)

That has to have been the most non-troll way of putting that.

Sorry that your facts are unpopular here...

Re:Give the (0, Flamebait)

PunkOfLinux (870955) | about 7 years ago | (#20351217)

You ever read failed states or hegemony or survival by noam chomsky?

Re:Give the (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20351317)

And now that you're older and wiser, re-read it and fix your mistakes.

Re:Give the (2, Informative)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | about 7 years ago | (#20351321)

You ever read failed states or hegemony or survival by noam chomsky?

Not to get into a debate on Chomsky, but he suffers from two major logic flaws: Proof by selective evidence, and he presupposes his conclusions (e.g., Given problem A, the conclusion will be that the U.S. holds the vast majority of blame).

No doubt he's a bright guy, but he has some huge blinders when it comes to politics. Unfortunately, his anger overwhelms his rationality.

Re:Give the (0, Flamebait)

SwedishPenguin (1035756) | about 7 years ago | (#20351313)

No they don't send suicide bombers, they do however send missiles and bomber planes with little regard for the palestinian civilian population, tell me how that's any better. Face it, Israel is as much to blame as Palestine in the conflict.
I think this conflict is an excellent example of why religion should be completely abolished worldwide, it's the most idiotic concept the human mind has ever invented and only serves to create conflict and restrict peoples rights.

Re:Give the (5, Insightful)

modecx (130548) | about 7 years ago | (#20351143)

Persian culture, by way of contrast, produced the world's first assertion and declaration of Human Rights, and is responsible for the foundation of modern mathematics.

While I somewhat agree with that sentiment, we need to recognize that Iran isn't exactly the same Persia that we know and love. A lot has changed over the years. Persia finally succumbed to Islam; around 90% of Iranians follow the various Islamic faiths, and there are very few Zoroastrians hanging around. Sure, ethnically, the people are mostly the same as they were during the Empire years, but to say that culture is still pervasive? I don't know about that. Also, you can't berate people who follow the other Abrahamic religions, and then praise a modern country filled with people who also follow an (in my eye) equally stupid, but somewhat different Abrahamic religion. What sense does that make?

I've no doubt that the Iranian people are generally, and individually, great people; still, they're under the influence of assholes. It's no different than the US. Their government lies, our government lies, their leader has a screw loose, our leader has to have a screw loose-and unfortunately he has control over the bombs. Israel is the same way. It would be nice, however, if Ahmadinejad didn't periodically call for the elimination of Israel. Instead of defusing the situation, all they do is throw another stick of dynamite on the pile, and it doesn't further their cause in the international arena.

Re:Give the (1)

belmolis (702863) | about 7 years ago | (#20351175)

You're confused. Israel has never fought an aggressive war. As for Zoroastrianism, however fine a religion it may be, it is of no relevance in determining one's view of modern Iran. Iran has been overwhelmingly Muslim for over 1,000 years. Zoroastrians are a tiny, persecuted, minority.

The U.S. government is very corrupt. (0)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | about 7 years ago | (#20351183)

People in the U.S. are, generally, very ignorant about the corruption in the U.S. government.

The U.S. does not have a problem with Iran, except for the problems the U.S. government makes. The U.S. government is manipulated by Cheney and others to use taxpayer's money to get control of oil, so that oil prices will rise. Saddam Hussein was not cooperating with that, and Iran isn't either.

The U.S. government makes very violent threats, and, when Iran reacts and replies, tells U.S. citizens that Iran is a threat.

It is necessary to have a government with enough social sophistication that it can live in the world without killing other people, and the U.S. does not have that government. The U.S. government has invaded at least 24 countries [futurepower.org] since the second world war, and is responsible for the deaths of perhaps 11 million people. All of that violence was done for profit [krysstal.com] for people who were already rich. People who have been born in wealthy families often feel that it is their right to kill other people.

For a few details about U.S. government corruption, see George W. Bush comedy and tragedy [futurepower.org] .

See also Unprecedented Corruption: A guide to conflict of interest in the U.S. government [futurepower.org] .

I'm very much in love with the U.S., and want to see better government.

Re:Give the (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20350981)

Suicide bombers are often under 20.

Re:Give the (1)

WhiplashII (542766) | about 7 years ago | (#20351099)

My recommendation is to try to avoid the issue. UAV will almost certainly be seen as a military device. (Very) Remote controlled airplane will not...

The Answer is Yes (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20350877)

The answer is yes, it would be wrong to participate with Iranians in developing UAV technology. It would be like participating with Nazis in developing open source insecticides. If you do, I hope to hell the government shuts you down.

Re:The Answer is Yes (1)

Aranykai (1053846) | about 7 years ago | (#20350941)

Who the hell modded this insightful?
Its the same ignorant bullshit that people use to validate racism. Someone needs to pay attention to how they spend their mod points.

Re:The Answer is Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20350987)

Someone needs to pay attention to how they spend their mod points.

That reminds me: I must meta-moderate more often.

Re:The Answer is Yes (3, Insightful)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 7 years ago | (#20350963)

TROLL ALERT

It is unbelievable propaganda to equate Iran to Nazi Germany. Israeli disinfo and psyops (MEMRI) [guardian.co.uk] deliberately mis-translate stories, and the lapdog media in the US and UK eat it up.

Here is the country, and the people [flickr.com] , that you smear as "enemy".

Re:The Answer is Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20351049)

And we all know the Muslim world, on the other hand, is perfectly objective and fair in THEIR depictions and news stories regarding Israel and Jews.

Oh, sorry... (1)

The Rizz (1319) | about 7 years ago | (#20351235)

I forgot that two wrongs actually do make a right (-wing politic).

Re:The Answer is Yes (4, Insightful)

The One and Only (691315) | about 7 years ago | (#20351085)

I'm not sure what those pictures are supposed to prove--Nazi Germany had cars and trees and apartment buildings and highways too. It is not quite accurate to compare the two, however. Iran is more like pre-Reformation Europe--a civilization whose people are growing more advanced, leading to tensions with a medieval theocratic regime.

One country becoming like Germany in Pre WWII (1)

Dan Ferguson (691027) | about 7 years ago | (#20351207)

It's not Iran either. It's right here in good old USA. It's changing quickly and moving towards a fascist police state IMO. Our government has built "detention centers" (Gitmo style) all over the USA. Some of them are designed to hold over 500,000 people. Now if they want to give amnesty to the immigrant Mexicans that are coming here then who do you suppose those detention centers are for?? Think and research - The answers are out there. Here is the NYTIMES story: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/04/national/04halli burton.html?ex=1296709200&en=01728da2eba059e4&ei=5 088&partner=rssn [nytimes.com] Search Youtube.com for videos

Re:The Answer is Yes (1)

iminplaya (723125) | about 7 years ago | (#20351251)

It is unbelievable propaganda to equate Iran to Nazi Germany.

While looking at the pictures of the orchestra, all I could hear was Die Walküre...

Kill the waaabbit...

Re:The Answer is Yes (1)

darkhitman (939662) | about 7 years ago | (#20350967)

Because all Iranians agree with their government and UAVs, despite lacking weaponry of any sort, are dangerous weapons that Iran doesn't already have the technology to build, right?

Whoever modded you insightful is even stupider than you, and that's a feat.

Re:The Answer is Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20350973)

Dear Anonymous Coward. You are clearly one of the sick americans that makes me never want to visit your country again. I hope you ignorant and stupid fucks go away some time soon. Have a nice day.

Re:The Answer is Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20351153)

An evil exists that threatens every man, woman and child of this great nation. We must take steps to ensure our domestic security and protect our homeland.

-- Adolf Hitler: when announcing the Gestapo.

Sound similar to anyone you know? In fact George W. Bush's grandfather laundered money for the Nazis [rense.com] , so if you're going to go into comparisons George W. Bush is a lot closer than anyone in Iran.

Flag?! (4, Funny)

scott_karana (841914) | about 7 years ago | (#20350885)

OH GOD THE IRANIAN FLAG!
As if Americans don't festoon their flag everywere.
Patiotic? "Nationalistic"? God.

Re:Flag?! (4, Insightful)

Swampash (1131503) | about 7 years ago | (#20351219)

"Comfort to the enemy"? Did you guncrazy oil-addicted religious wack-jobs declare war on Iran already?

Re:Flag?! (4, Insightful)

alxbtk (1009019) | about 7 years ago | (#20351339)

Nope, still at the "preparing the masses" phase...

Re:Flag?! (4, Funny)

WhiplashII (542766) | about 7 years ago | (#20351231)

This would never work in Canada - there is no way you would fit a Canadian flag on a small aircraft...

Re:Flag?! (1)

bug1 (96678) | about 7 years ago | (#20351367)

Yea, some people just go too far...

I would have supported them it had just been the case of the (apparently) evil people building evil weapons, but once i saw the color scheme i was so out of there.

j/k

Doing the government's work for them (4, Insightful)

QCompson (675963) | about 7 years ago | (#20350887)

My question: is there ever a case for letting national security issues dictate the limits of an open source project?

If you want to do the government's work for them, sure.

If you are shutting down a project based solely on the fear that your government may shut you down in the future (and not for a valid reason), you are only saving them the trouble, and making it that much worse for the next controversial open-source project that comes along.

Re:Doing the government's work for them (4, Insightful)

rahvin112 (446269) | about 7 years ago | (#20351245)

Actions of supplying Iran, Cuba, Syria, North Korea and the other countries on the weapon export list with the technology or know how to build weapons can result in jail time. Being cavalier and saying he shouldn't worry about it till they shut him down is encouraging him to gamble with his freedom.

This isn't the situation where they send you a DCMA notice and turn your website off. This is where they show up with a warrant, search your house and incarcerate you with a million dollar bail because they are charging you with violation of the arms export laws of this country. This isn't the kind of thing you fool around with, if you think there is a possibility that the UAV project you are working on is being copied by a foreign military or anyone within a country on the export list you could be in serious trouble for continuing. Regardless of how you feel about the politics, if you don't want to go to jail, you implement controls on the information you are providing (to prevent access by countries on the weapons export list) or you get someone outside the US to head the project and control the website. That is, if you care about spending the next 25 years in federal prison.

Re:Doing the government's work for them (3, Informative)

1u3hr (530656) | about 7 years ago | (#20351431)

implement controls on the information you are providing (to prevent access by countries on the weapons export list)

Ah yes, all those "If you are a terrorist, please do not download this file" warnings we see on stites with encryption software and such. I'm sure that is extremely effective. And terrroists don't know how to use proxy servers to hide their IP location either.

National Security? Maybe not. Privacy? Maybe. (1)

einhverfr (238914) | about 7 years ago | (#20351353)

I would make a counterargument here.

If it is an open and public community and is not overtly seeking the development of weapons (just multi-use components), I would say that there is not. At worst, the government should see this as a possibility for intelligence for any real terrorist link.

I suppose that if this was an "open source uranium enrichment centrifuge and bomb design project" there would be a case. But even there, I tend to think that the enemy we do no know is more dangerous than the enemy we do. Such an open source project might indeed be a source of a great amount of information for the CIA.

In the end, I think the question is likely to be about the privacy of participants, not national security. If there are national security concerns, you can expect various governments to send appropriate spy agencies to your project. If this is not desirable, you may wish to reconsider.

All in all, I tend to act as if a lot of this doesn't really matter. I would not close down such a project myself, but I would probably open up a discussion on the issues, explicitly saying that there was no direspect intended for your Iranian friend.

Blah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20350893)

God Damn you George W. Bush!! Even if the evil White House(George Bush, President) were to be watching your little Iranian friend - can you blame them for seeing what a nation of Jihadists are going to do with nasty technology?

Open to all (5, Insightful)

CalSolt (999365) | about 7 years ago | (#20350899)

Just like scientific advancements and knowledge in general are available to anyone, anywhere, so should be open source software. It's a principles thing.

In any case, something tells me no open source UAV software will ever be capable of running a weapons platform without significant contributions. If a country can build a UAV capable of military grade recon or even able to field weapons, they won't have any problem writing the software.

Re:Open to all (2, Funny)

modecx (130548) | about 7 years ago | (#20351199)

I echo that, but I would like to add that if some military outfit is modifying GPL code to make open source UAVs deliver death from above, I sure hope they redistribute the changes because I want some of that shit.

Re:Open to all (1)

j0ebaker (304465) | about 7 years ago | (#20351365)

Maybe it could be equipped with a gatlin-gun style rubber band shooter. Or cold water squirt gun. Fly it over the beach and squirt the sunbathers! Liberty is paramount. Go ahead with it, maybe in a few years we will need it to protect us from our own government here in the US. I'm voting for Ron Paul. It's time we remove our military presence from the Middle East and other places abroad. It is our meddeling in middle eastern affairs that is the cause of the 9/11 attacks. It is our continued presence that is doing little more than grow the recruiting rosters of Alcaida. Of course that's good for military companies like Haliburten (spellingn?). http://www.ronpaul2008.com/ [ronpaul2008.com] And if you're impatient for the next election like I am, visit http://www.impeachbush.org/ [impeachbush.org] to bring an end to George's Un-Constitutional behavior. My little Ron Paul Page is here: http://www.dcresearch.com/ronpaul [dcresearch.com] Join the Revolution!

..eh (1)

HoodCrowd (783572) | about 7 years ago | (#20350903)

..eh....eh..ehmm. I can't remember.

Simple (1)

Propaganda13 (312548) | about 7 years ago | (#20350921)

Attempt to turn him into a double agent for the US. Keep notes of all your attempts. You'll either be rewarded for your patriotism, locked up, or "disappear".

Tradecraft? (4, Interesting)

HangingChad (677530) | about 7 years ago | (#20350925)

One would think someone infiltrating a group to aid a hostile government would be able to cover their tracks a little better. Maybe use a cutout in Germany, South America or Canada. It would be pretty foolish for the Iranian Air Force to use an IP that traces back to Tehran. Just because they talk with an accent doesn't mean they think with one.

Besides, if the Iranians want advanced UAV's, the Russians will sell them whatever is in their inventory. The Chinese, who probably make a lot of the circuit boards and sub systems for our military, would happily sell them their 100% original design...that just happens to look amazingly like ours. Heeeey.

If they struck out there then they're down to the French, Taiwanese, North Koreans and a half-dozen other countries happy to sell them weapons systems under the table.

Of course, this is the Bush administration we're talking about here. Logic and common sense hold no sway in American government and people get appointed to high office because they're skilled fund raisers. So, yeah, I could see them shaking down you guys just because it makes them feel like they're doing something and they can understand you when you talk...if you limit yourself to simple words. Plus you're convenient driving distance from their offices.

Re:Tradecraft? (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | about 7 years ago | (#20351129)

The Chinese, who probably make a lot of the circuit boards and sub systems for our military, would happily sell them their 100% original design...that just happens to look amazingly like ours. Heeeey.

I'll have to ask around, but I don't think this is true. Just because consumer electronics is generally made in China doesn't mean that the avionics are. A lot of avionics are designed in the US, using domestic manufacturing. Because of national security concerns, I don't think that much military-specific work is let out of the country, they don't even let non-citizens work on the projects, even if they are here legally. One local company will only hire US citizens as a result of these policies, period, no green cards, no visas or whatnot.

Re:Tradecraft? (1)

einhverfr (238914) | about 7 years ago | (#20351377)

My understanding is that you are partly right as is the GP.

The US Military has, according to some articles I have read, been increasingly concerned about being too dependant on Chinese electronics.

At the same time, I believe that most of these concerns were on the chip level, not that of the PCB.

Re:Tradecraft? (1)

compro01 (777531) | about 7 years ago | (#20351397)

in which case an interested party can merely find a less-than-satisfied American citizen and wave a stack of green paper in his general direction.

Does it really matter? (2, Interesting)

proudfoot (1096177) | about 7 years ago | (#20350927)

It seems to me that the Iranians have this type of basic technology - keep in mind, keeping something in the air is no big challenge, nor is waypoint navigation. Also - picking up any field robotics journal will have papers on this sort of autonomous stuff - should be ban those too?

Is it that simple? (3, Interesting)

Arathon (1002016) | about 7 years ago | (#20350929)

I hate to complicate matters, but...I'm not sure it's so cut-and-dried. The Nazi example above may seem a little silly to some, but it's not totally off-the-wall. It seems to me that the question that needs to be asked is "Who says it's a national security issue?" If it seems like a knee-jerk "He's a Muslim!"-type thing, then we're not really talking national security. But if we're dealing with someone who has a reasonable likelihood of wanting to harm the U.S., and the project itself actually lends itself to that, then...yeah, I suppose you'd need to seriously consider not allowing the guy to participate.

In other words: believe it or not, there are somethings that are more important than "freedom"...as far as SOFTWARE goes. =P

It ain't rocket science (4, Informative)

FlyByPC (841016) | about 7 years ago | (#20350935)

Yes, making a UAV is not trivial, but neither is it incredibly difficult. There are plenty of cheap parts out there that, with a little programming, could tie together a small GPS module and aircraft control servos. It wouldn't be too terribly difficult for any country to make a UAV; I would say with a parts budget of $1K US, I could probably get a simple one (that could fly to a given waypoint) working within a few weeks/months. With $10K, you could make a very capable one -- probably with a range of several hundred km -- which could carry a small payload (a few grams of radioactives go a long way, ya know.)

Bottom line -- trying to restrict such technology is laughable these days. Microchip literally gives away [microchip.com] microcontrollers capable of handling a small aircraft, given the right software and interface electronics. These "evil terr-a-rists" will always be able to get their hands on technology. What we need is to find a way to make it politically difficult for them to continue as terrorists. (I.E. find a diplomatic solution.)

Re:It ain't rocket science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20351019)

Diplomatic solution!? You sir are an islamic commie terrorist M$ apologist! We must crush the enemy ruthlessly until their children hate us even more than they did! Then our children will crush their children and breed even more hate! IT'S THE ONLY WAY TO WIN THE WAR! KILL! KILL!

Re:It ain't rocket science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20351421)

damn, where are my mod points when I need them. haha!

Re:It ain't rocket science (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | about 7 years ago | (#20351105)

I would say with a parts budget of $1K US, I could probably get a simple one (that could fly to a given waypoint) working within a few weeks/months. With $10K, you could make a very capable one -- probably with a range of several hundred km -- which could carry a small payload (a few grams of radioactives go a long way, ya know.)

Considering that a classic 'dirty bomb' (conventional explosives dispersing radioactives) only does surface contamination, they're relatively easy to clean up. http://blog.wired.com/biotech/2007/02/wash_that_di rty.html [wired.com] is one method being developed. From what I've read, they're pretty much a non-issue boogeyman designed to boost the funding of our heroes at Homeland Security.

A few grams of active biologicals, say, some reworked viri, would be a LOT more dangerous than a few grams of random radioactives. Course, they'd be a lot harder to brew up in the bathtub at this time...

Re:It ain't rocket science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20351257)

I totally agree. Political diplomacy is the best way to stop terrorists. For example if someone said surrender your freedom or die I would respond "die" and shoot them square in the face. Gosh, I really wouldn't want to have to kill people to have freedom but if they threaten my life well it's obvious they are suicidal and I believe that too is their choice. They can totally choose to confront me, truly threaten me and die by my hand. That sort of negotiation would lead to huge shifts in the political landscape.

Technology doesn't matter in the long run... (2, Insightful)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | about 7 years ago | (#20350945)

If you have an "enemy" that doesn't play by your rules, and out breeds you, you will lose in the long run. Eventually they will simply out number you, and maybe even just "vote you out", without a shot fired.

Then you will laugh when the next Ice Age comes.

And cry when the next asteroid hits...

The only "hope", if there is a point, is to get geographically diversified. And by geographically, I mean light-years.

Re:Technology doesn't matter in the long run... (1)

Kaenneth (82978) | about 7 years ago | (#20351345)

Astrographically?

Anyone Still Listening? (4, Insightful)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | about 7 years ago | (#20350951)

``My instinct is that we should welcome everyone, everywhere, but I'm sure some in Washington worry that this looks like helping an 'Axis of Evil' country make advanced weapons.''

Is anyone still taking these guys seriously? I mean, the "Axis of Evil" was coined at the time when the whole cast was performing a play where they convinced the USAmerican public that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and posed a great threat to the USA. Now that has been exposed for the load of bollocks many of us already saw it for at the time. The whole "Axis of Evil" concept was invented to scare the American public into thinking there was a conspiracy against them, but, in all the time since then, none of the countries on this supposed axis have actually attacked the USA. The only aggressor in this whole stage play has been the USA itself, with the demagogues leading the violence somehow escaping scrutiny. Sure, Iraqis are killing US soldiers _now_, but, well, can you blame them, after said soldiers plunged their country into an anarchy where it's news if there is a day _without_ bombings? And the same guys who came up with the "Axis of Evil" told you that the US soldiers would be received as heroes and bring peace and stability to Iraq.

And now you are saying that X is a good idea, but we'd better not do it because the "Axis of Evil" guys may not like it? I'm not saying the idea is good and you should do it, but _not_ doing it because of those demagogues seems about as bad an idea as they get. They've done enough damage already!

Yes (2, Interesting)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 7 years ago | (#20350961)

My question: is there ever a case for letting national security issues dictate the limits of an open source project?"
Yes.
Imagine if someone decided to design an open source cruise missile.

The U.S.A. already leaned on the New Zealand gov't to shut down a guy making a (non-open source) DIY cruise missile just to prove that he could do it. The NZ version of the IRS hound him into bankruptcy.

Not to mention that his gov't even said it'd be perfectly fine if he sold the technology to Iran. BTW - He didn't.

No (1)

poptones (653660) | about 7 years ago | (#20351047)

See, this is the difference you're overlooking... it's in your own words.

This guy working on a non open platform was shut down...

Of course he was. It was a single point of failure in the chain. He didnt share his work with others, so he became an easy target. Had he opened that platform right off the mark then there would have been no point in the IRS targeting him. He likely would have saved himself considerable financial loss by not being so secretive.

How is the US gov't going to "shut down" open discussion hosted on multiple servers around the world? No matter any declared or undeclared "war" they can't even keep child porn off usenet, they're damn sure going to be powerless shutting down talk about model airplanes and electronic servo controllers.

Re:No (1)

WhiplashII (542766) | about 7 years ago | (#20351249)

How is the US gov't going to "shut down" open discussion

The same way they do it to people building rockets. They use ITAR, and throw you in jail if you don't comply.

We really need to reduce the ITAR regulations - call your congressman!

A revamped V1 as the AK-47 of aerial warfare (2, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | about 7 years ago | (#20351381)

Imagine if someone decided to design an open source cruise missile. ... DIY cruise missile

That guy was developing something that some strategic intel people have been expecting for years [darpa.mil] - a simple V1-like UAV, but with modern guidance.

The V1 of WWII was a very simple device, built cheaply out of sheet metal with a crude engine. Range of several hundred miles. Moderately reliable airframe. But the guidance systems of that era had trouble finding London, and hitting a specific military target was hopeless. The same airframe with modern guidance could hit specific buildings. It could become the Third World's answer to US bombing strikes - the AK-47 of air warfare. So far, no one has bothered.

Teach a man to kill.... (0, Troll)

headkase (533448) | about 7 years ago | (#20350971)

It's as simple as this: "they" do not think like "us". Our goals and interpretations of the world in general may not be compatible with each other. So pragmatically, don't give someone you don't fully trust the means to hurt you.
Oooooh, here come the liberals :)

" Can Open Source Give Comfort To the Enemy?" (1)

rolfwind (528248) | about 7 years ago | (#20350975)

Open Source can be used by anybody, that's part of the point.

Phil Zimmerman says yes (1)

Weaselmancer (533834) | about 7 years ago | (#20350977)

My question: is there ever a case for letting national security issues dictate the limits of an open source project?

"Yesterday morning, I received word from Assistant U.S. Attorney William Keane in San Jose, California, that the government's three-year investigation of Philip Zimmermann is over."

Article here. [philzimmermann.com] More info here. [faqs.org]

Iranian flag? (2, Funny)

SamP2 (1097897) | about 7 years ago | (#20350995)

...made a UAV in the colors of the Iranian flag

If you are going to fly it in the US, just paint it sideways. The worst problem you'll then encounter is border patrol thinking its those illegal Mexican immigrants crossing by air.

Since when did Iran become your enemy? (3, Informative)

siyavash (677724) | about 7 years ago | (#20351007)

Might be a bit offtopic but Wait a minute... there is no war going on between USA and Iran, Since when did Iran become your enemy? Just because your president sais something stupid you see a whole country as "your" enemy?

Call me crazy, but that is just wrong.

I'm from Iran myself and I know that most people in Iran do not see USA as the "enemy" at all. People should not judge a country by the small minority which rules it.

I might be a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.

Re:Since when did Iran become your enemy? (2, Insightful)

WhiplashII (542766) | about 7 years ago | (#20351191)

People should not judge a country by the small minority which rules it.

The problem with that statement is that the rulers of Iran:

1) Have said that they want nuclear weapons, and are actively pursuing nuclear technology
2) Have said that they want to wipe Isreal from the map
3) Seem to be spreading fear through their military and covert actions

While that does not make me hate Iranians or anything, that may lead to the US being forced to intervene no matter how we judge the rest of them - which would certainly make most Iranians hate us...

It is a very difficult problem. What do you do when a country is stable, but dangerously aggressive? Is it better to leave it alone, and sometimes get a Pearl Harbor, or kick over the hornets nest and get Iraq? No matter what you do, you have a bad outcome. And of course, the Iranians are not going to rebel against their government - they have the guns.

As technology increases, this problem will get worse - for two reasons. First, the power goverments have over people will increase - think of the progression of knives, guns, tanks, ???. Second, the Pearl Harbor or first strike outcome gets far worse - what if Bin Laden had waited until after they aquired thermonukes? In the next century, a terrorist could conceivably kill every american in the opening shot...

I so want off this planet!

Re:Since when did Iran become your enemy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20351335)

You've been watching too much Fox News, get some Bill Hicks instead [youtube.com] and remember: it's funny because it's true. :)

Re:Since when did Iran become your enemy? (1)

WhiplashII (542766) | about 7 years ago | (#20351357)

Interestingly enough, I watch no TV at all...

I found that clip distateful. Everyone that disagrees with him is a murderer? How quaint.

Eh, then who do we judge it by? (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | about 7 years ago | (#20351433)

This excuse has been used before, countless times. The simple fact is that if you are not actively working against your goverment, you are supporting them. This goes for any country.

The US population supports the bush administrations war on terror by not acting against it, I support the dutch goverments actions in afghanistan and irag, by not acting against it, and you support your countries hatred of every non-muslim country, by not acting against it.

All the evil needs to flourish is the in-action of some good men.

It don't matter of most people from Iran do not see the USA as the enemy, it matters wether they will pay their taxes to fund the anti-western anti-democracy anti-freedom goverment and will serve its military.

IF Iran launched a war against say Israel, how many of the people you know would refuse military duty, would outcast family members that went to war?

Note that this is NOT just against you, it goes for the entire human race. It sadly is just too easy to just sit back, say "I am against", and then let it happen. From slavery, to the holocaust, to animal cruelty, to child labor. "Good" men have sat back, said they disapproved and then do nothing.

The problem with dreamers is that the world is ruled by those who ACT on their dreams. You and I might share a dream, but it will never happen, unless we act.

couldn't somebody just... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20351015)

...buy a remote control airplane? What's the "edge" that this UAV gives to the enemy?

However, since you ask the questioned on slashdot, you'll probably get a little "visit". It was probably smarter to just lay low, idiot.

WTF will the Iranians or associates do with UAVs? (1)

bersl2 (689221) | about 7 years ago | (#20351035)

Fly recon against Israel or against American interests in Iraq? Deploy weapons?

It may give a small advantage to terrorists or insurgents for a few times, but in the long run, air defense will adapt to them if they have any perceivable effect.

Doubt it (1)

ArcherB (796902) | about 7 years ago | (#20351041)

"My question: is there ever a case for letting national security issues dictate the limits of an open source project?"

I doubt it. Once the genie is out of the bottle, there is no way to get it back in. Shutting down a project because the enemy is using will not stop the enemy, just ourselves!

Respect Mah Authoritay (5, Informative)

hardburn (141468) | about 7 years ago | (#20351051)

My question: is there ever a case for letting national security issues dictate the limits of an open source project?"

Crypto was kept out of the Linux kernel for a long time, since the US had regulation on exporting crypto systems. These were mostly lifted under Clinton, though there's still a list of countries that it's illegal to export to (Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria, according to: http://www.epic.org/crypto/export_controls/regs_1_ 00.html [epic.org] ).

RMS has stated that if copyright laws in the vein of the DMCA continue to be passed, Free Software development could no longer take place in US borders.

Germany was recently hit with a law that outlawed "hacking software", apparently including nmap or packet sniffers.

It's nice to say that you want to do things for the good of humanity, but beaurocrats have other ideas.

One word. (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | about 7 years ago | (#20351053)

PGP.

Any civ = fine; Any mil = scary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20351055)

I'd go with a different axis: a military/civilian one. Any civilian project (from any nation) like this seems fine to me - it's playing around. Any military project like this (regardless of country) seems a bit scary to me - it's introducing robotic drones to do a war-maker's bidding.

It's happened before. (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | about 7 years ago | (#20351059)

Bruce Simpson [aardvark.co.nz] got in trouble ages ago for building a rocket that adaptively kept a cart level. After someone in the US government was quoted as describing his activities as "unhelpful", the New Zealand government stepped in with some financial crap to close down his hobby.

Reality Check Required (4, Insightful)

arthurpaliden (939626) | about 7 years ago | (#20351065)

The Iranian Government currently has the technology to produce:

  • anti-ship cruse missiles
  • medium and short range ballistic missiles
  • weapons grade plutonium

And you think that stopping a not for profit, model aircraft UAV building group is going to limit their ability to produce a military UAV.

So how many other open source projects may have secret Iranian participants, shall we shut them all down.

How about shutting down Linux because it can be used by the Iranians to build super computers like they do in the west to test bomb designs.?


Lets ban all knowledge because the terrorists may get at it.

pfft... (1)

djupedal (584558) | about 7 years ago | (#20351073)

"is there ever a case for letting national security issues dictate the limits of an open source project?"

Yes, and I could tell you, but then I'd have to hunt you down and kill you, so....no.

Report suspicious muslims to terrorism hotline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20351083)

Report suspicious muslims to your terrorism hotline. Remember, muslims are the enemy of all freedom loving peoples. They are even more dangerous than nazis and communists. Photograph suspicious muslims and report them to your terrorism hotline.

Keep these phone numbers handy:
  • In Australia: call the National Security Hotline on 1800 123 400.
  • In the UK: call 0800 789 321 to report any suspicious activity.
  • In the USA: call the FBI Hotline: 1-866-483-5137

Do your duty and protect YOUR country from the muslims plotting to destroy it!

look into itar (1)

blackcoot (124938) | about 7 years ago | (#20351107)

before you go much farther, i would strongly encourage you to become familiar with itar (international trade in arms) restrictions. there are extremely stiff penalties for any unauthorized export, which includes even discussions of the technical details. (at least that's the way my company's itar representative spins it). as always, your mileage will vary: i am neither a lawyer, d.o.d. or d.o.t. auditor, nor do i play any of those on tv.

If Iran can build a nuclear reactor (2, Insightful)

codepunk (167897) | about 7 years ago | (#20351111)

What, do you think people in the middle east are somehow stupid or not educated and incapable of
creating a UAV without assistance? Having spent a fair amount of time in the middle east I can tell you that their population in many cases has better access to technology than we do here in the states.

I think if they have the smarts and capability to build a reactor that a UAV would not be real difficult for them.

Re:If Iran can build a nuclear reactor (1)

rahvin112 (446269) | about 7 years ago | (#20351167)

The Russians are building the nuclear reactor. The Iranians are enriching the Uranium, using technology and the same skill set the Russians and the US had in 1950.

Re:If Iran can build a nuclear reactor (1)

vranash (594439) | about 7 years ago | (#20351267)

Keep in mind thought that's probably due to infrastructure limitations rather than technological ones.

Buying a whole bunch of electronics from china or malysia or whatnot is probably a lot easier than getting modern grade nuclear reactor components transported and placed in Iran.

Besides which is that there's plenty of Iranians trained in computer science, electrical engineering, etc, and I'd assume more flags raised if not outright blocked (in the us at east) in regards to studying nuclear engineering.

That's just my take on it, being some uneducated git, it could be completely off-base.

Re:If Iran can build a nuclear reactor (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20351201)

Most of them are inbred tribal goat fuckers. They are as primitive as the most backwoods Amazon monkey people. And a whole lot meaner and stupider. Generation after generation of Muslim breeding with siblings and first cousins doesn't bode well for the gene pool. They worship rocks and the moon.

Give me a friggin' break! They could no more build a 747, or a dialysis machine, or a microchip than some South Pacific cargo cult. Actually, most of the muslim world is sort of a cargo cult which buys technological trinkets and googaws with oil dollars. When the oil dries up, they will go back to making camel dung patty cakes.

National security BS (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20351131)

My question: is there ever a case for letting national security issues dictate the limits of an open source project?

National security issues can put the kibosh on nearly anything. Just ask the amateur rocketry hobbyists about the hoops they have to jump through due to the PATRIOT Act. In a few more years you'll probably be lucky to be able to find chemistry sets with experiments more interesting than mixing vinegar and baking soda.

Re:National security BS (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | about 7 years ago | (#20351361)

National security issues can put the kibosh on nearly anything. Just ask the amateur rocketry hobbyists about the hoops they have to jump through due to the PATRIOT Act. In a few more years you'll probably be lucky to be able to find chemistry sets with experiments more interesting than mixing vinegar and baking soda.

And when they do start putting out these chemistry sets, so much for the next generation of mad scientists.

Fear. (1)

chris_sawtell (10326) | about 7 years ago | (#20351161)

My question: is there ever a case for letting national security issues dictate the limits of an open source project?
No, because if you do it means that the Ter-ra-ra-rists have won the war.

If that's the message you want to give your readers, go right ahead and behave as if you are living in fear under the control of a neo-Fascist regime.

The world wide stupidity epidemic is spreading (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20351181)

That's what it looks like. Not that I would be suprised a bit.

Men like you (0, Troll)

michaelmalak (91262) | about 7 years ago | (#20351239)

How are you supposed to know? Fucking men like you built the hydrogen bomb. Men like you thought it up. You think you're so creative. You don't know what it's like to really create something; to create a life; to feel it growing inside you. All you know how to create is death and destruction.

Re:Men like you (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20351275)

Fags like you? What the hell do you create? Having some stranger jizz up your rectum in a public restroom doesn't exactly make you gravid, unless you are planning on giving birth to a dose of AIDS or clap.

Re:Men like you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20351373)

I'll take "Missed Movie References" for $500, Alex.

Get over yourself (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 7 years ago | (#20351265)

The research you are doing, while interesting is not so important that it's national security material. No-one in the government is probably giving your efforts a second thought.

Think of all the interactions you've ever had with the government, in any form. Now do you feel like being frightened of them as some large omnipresent and omniscient force? I think not!!

Liberal tinfoil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20351437)

This site has nothing to do with tech... its all about the liberal fear and tinfoil...
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>